Multiplatinum teen pop groups are a lot like luminous stars about to go supernova. With a tremendous burst, the star's core collapses and its energy is blasted into interstellar space. Traces remain for years, but the fiery glow is gone and its essence becomes mere stardust.
New Kids on the Block, New Edition, Menudo and Spice Girls are just a
handful of groups that were flying high one moment and fading away the next.
One way artists sometimes try to delay or even avoid their seemingly
inevitable decline is by leaving their group and striking out on their own. Of course, there's no guarantee such a move will recharge the engine, as evidenced by Melanie B., Geri Halliwell and Joey McIntyre. But for Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, Robbie Williams and others, stepping out provided a chance to reach even more stratospheric heights which explains why there's so much talk right now about 'NSYNC's Justin Timberlake going solo. (To read what MTVNews.com users had to say, check out You Tell Us. For photos of 'NSYNC at the 2002 Grammy Awards, click here.)
Fans aren't the only ones talking. On "TRL" late last year, Elton John
hinted that he would play piano on a Timberlake solo disc (Justin played a young Elton in John's "This Train Don't Stop There Any More" video). Last month, Angie Stone revealed that Timberlake wants her to guest on the record as well (see "Angie Stone Makes Studio Time With Timberlake, Moby, Keys"). And Raphael Saadiq said he is planning to be one of the producers for the project (see "Raphael Saadiq, D'Angelo Wait For Booty Call On New Single").
Last year, Timberlake ventured outside the 'NSYNC family to record guest vocals for Brian McKnight's Grammy-nominated song "My Kind of Girl" and to co-write and co-produce "What It's Like to Be Me" from Britney Spears' Britney, which came out in November. And as the lead singer, writer and producer of 'NSYNC, he's already proven he can write and produce smash hits.
However, in a recent MTV poll, more than 50 percent of those who responded said that Justin should stay with his bandmates.
"If Justin went solo he could never in a million years get the reception that 'NSYNC gets," said Danielle from Green Bay, Wisconsin. "They work so well together as a group because each member brings something unique to the group and gives them a wider fanbase."
Only 34 percent suggested Timberlake should leave the group, but many in that minority voiced their opinions with the most emphatic words.
"Justin is 'NSYNC," wrote Melissa from Columbus, Georgia. "He wrote almost all the songs on Celebrity, and all of his singles are doing very well. If there was no Justin, then there would be no 'NSYNC. If Justin was the star of "On the Line" instead of Lance and Joey, the movie would have done much better at the box office. It is and will always be Justin and the Timberlakes. J-Dog, do us all a favor and go solo. You don't need them."
Lindsey from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was just as insistent: "Justin is the only one that sings and has a lead role as it is. Isn't he already solo with some background singers and dancers?"
Some participants in the poll felt that without Timberlake, 'NSYNC wouldn't have the starpower to continue their chart reign.
"He'd probably be really successful, but I think that if he decided to [go solo] his former 'NSYNCers would be screwed," wrote Mary from Hamilton, New York. "They are all talented individually, but you've got to admit, Justin Timberlake carries the group on his very attractive shoulders."
Still other fans argued that Timberlake would sputter and choke without the rest of 'NSYNC.
"If Justin feels that he should go it alone, then he should, but he
shouldn't be expecting the same popularity that he has with 'NSYNC," opined Meghan from Rochester, New York. "His fans love him because of his association with the group, and some may not want to see him solo. I just hope he knows what he is doing and he doesn't end up a has-been before his 22nd birthday!"
Willow from Chicago was less diplomatic. "Without the other four members of 'NSYNC, Justin is merely Mr. Britney Spears. Much like Nicole Kidman (who remained in the shadows of Tom Cruise until their divorce), Justin, on his own, will be more famous for being Britney's boyfriend than he will be for any talent he may possess. As long as he is with Britney, he needs the rest of the group."
In all likelihood, nothing's gonna stop Timberlake from recording a solo album, but just because he's gonna enter the studio without Lance, Joey, Chris and JC doesn't mean he has any intention of leaving 'NSYNC for good.
Even if that's his eventual goal, he'll probably wait until he has a successful solo record under his belt before making any sort of official announcement. Even then, if he's as savvy as he seems to be, Timberlake just might wait until 'NSYNC lay an egg before he waves bye bye bye to his bandmates.
Don't miss MTV's "Grammy Hangover" airing Saturday at noon and 5:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.